Incumbent Birgit Fladager had a significant lead in the race for Stanislaus County district attorney as she faced off against three challengers, including one within her own office.
Fladager, who is seeking a fourth term, had 48 percent of the vote, according to results Wednesday morning showing 100 percent of the precincts reporting.
"I am very pleased that the voters in this county are impressed with us and the job we've done," Fladager said from her election night party at the Camp 4 wine bar and eatery in downtown Modesto.
Fladager says the Stanislaus Family Justice Center, the Fire Investigation Unit and a diversionary program for low-level offenders were all established under her leadership to enhance public safety and create efficiencies. She told voters her opponents combined to have zero leadership experience, while she has spent the past 27 years in Modesto working as a prosecutor.
"I'm involved in the community much more now than I was when I was a line prosecutor," Fladager has said. "So that gives me I think a better opportunity to understand really what's going on in the community, how we impact the community and what the voice of the community is."
Her three challengers told voters that it's Fladager's 12 years of experience as the county's top prosecutor that show the District Attorney's Office desperately needed a change in leadership.
Deputy District Attorney John R. Mayne, who sought to unseat his boss, had 23 percent of the vote. He believed that the election will end with either Fladager winning outright or he gets to face her again in a runoff.
"If it goes to November, I'm prepared to fight it and win in November," Mayne said Tuesday night. "Right now, it's too early to give a definitive statement."
Mayne told voters Fladager mismanaged the District Attorney's Office, destroying morale within the office, resulting in numerous prosecutors leaving for other jobs with similar or less pay and delaying criminal cases substantially.
"And the turnover has clearly been caused by the office. This is not normal turnover," Mayne has said. "This is the highest turnover I've seen in 17 years, and it's increasing."
Modesto attorney Patrick Kolasinski, whose primary practice is immigration law and criminal defense, had 15 percent of the vote.
"In a word? Ouch," Kolasinski said about the initial election results. "We're holding our emotions until we get more clear results."
He said Tuesday night that he still had hope he could get enough of the remaining votes to challenge Fladager in a runoff, if she fails to reach 50 percent plus one vote.
Kolasinski told voters that Fladager has created an inefficient prosecutorial system that's resulted in a huge backlog of criminal cases.
"That's what we need to do is go back to the basics," Kolasinski has said. "Follow-up on all the cases that are open, figure out why everyone one of those is still open... Not divert resources to where they don't need to be spent on cases that go too long or are a waste of energy."
Modesto attorney Steven O'Connor, a criminal defense attorney, had nearly 14 percent of the vote. He could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.
O'Connor has told voters that Fladager has been behind a number of wrongful prosecutions, including his friend Modesto attorney Frank Carson, creating a culture of domination, fear and control.
"A DA's job is to prosecute crime and seek justice," O'Connor has said. "You can prosecute vigorously, but it can be done in a humane way."
Carson and two co-defendant are currently standing trial, charged with murder in the death of Turlock resident Korey Kauffman. Three other defendants in the murder case, including Carson's wife and stepdaughter, have been cleared of any wrongdoing and are seeking litigation, claiming Fladager's office has carried out a malicious prosecution in its effort to ruin Carson's career.